Don’t Look Back
The directorial debut of Final Destination screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick, Don’t Look Back tells the story of Caitlin Kramer, a woman who finds herself a witness in a murder case, nine months after losing her father in a home invasion. As her fellow witnesses are mysteriously killed one by one, Cailtin must find out who – or what – is targeting the so-called “Bad Samaritans.”
This film seems to be an attempt to reinterpret and subvert the “doomed survivors” concept of the Final Destination films, but this reinterpretation takes out the primary selling point of those films – the cheesy violent deaths – and doesn’t replace them with very much else of substance. The characters are all fairly one-note, with dynamics that feel clichéd, and they don’t even have the good grace to die in interesting ways. The actors try their best to salvage the script (Kourtney Bell does a great job at holding the narrative together as Caitlin), but there’s only so much they can do with an uninspiring script and story.
Don’t Look Back tries for a scarier and more tense tone than Reddick’s previous cinematic endeavours, but the writing and cinematography conspire against that intent, and the film is never truly scary. Every attempted jump scare ends up making the movie more corny than suspenseful, and this mystery thriller is rarely thrilling or mysterious.
The primary theme is the “bystander effect,” which is conveyed extremely unsubtly throughout, but is also not explored or addressed in any meaningful way beyond an assertion that it is a bad thing. In fact, the tone of the story comes off as incredibly sanctimonious, which is not helped by the literal preaching that deflates the tension and comes across like an advert for Christianity.
Don’t Look Back is an ambitious debut behind the camera for Jeffrey Reddick in its attempts to subvert the films he is most famous for, but it ultimately falls short in its execution. It’s a real shame because, from a technical standpoint, it’s very well shot and well acted, but it fails to commit to a single tone. All the experience of watching Don’t Look Back does is remind its audience of better – or at least more interesting – horror films they could be watching.
Don’t Look Back is released digitally on demand on 14th June 2021.
Watch the trailer for Don’t Look Back here: